Can Stem Cells Help Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)?
What is ILD?
Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) is a canopy term used to identify a family of roughly 100 different types of pulmonary disorders that affect the absorption of oxygen in the lungs. All of these disorders alter the interstitium, which is the tissue and space surrounding the alveoli—the cluster-like air sacs—of the lungs. Typically the interstitium is not visible, but when an individual has ILD, the interstitium becomes visible as a result of progressive scarring. This progressive scarring is characteristic of the whole family of disorders encompassed by ILD. The scar tissue impedes the ability for oxygen to pass into the bloodstream from the lungs. Previously the effects of ILD were completely irreversible; now stem cell treatment for ILD is emerging as a practical option for people suffering from this condition.
Treatment for ILD
Unfortunately, ILD is not curable, but that does not mean that the disease is untreatable. In fact, there are many potential treatments for ILD as there are a variety of possible causes and prognoses. As an incurable disease, the treatment is not meant to make the disease disappear, but rather treatment can be used to improve a patient’s quality of life, to improve symptoms or to delay the progression of the disease. Initially, many physicians prescribe a combination of medicines to suppress the immune system, but these have not proved successful in the long run. In order to help individuals struggling to breathe, supplemental oxygen can work to prevent shortness of breath and make life more comfortable. Occasionally, pulmonary rehabilitation and nutritional counseling are offered as a means of strengthening a patient’s endurance. In the most severe cases, physicians may recommend a lung transplant, but this often has limited availability and extensive requirements for procedure eligibility. Thankfully, a new treatment is available as a result of the hard work of a visionary group of physicians dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with lung disease.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the building blocks of every living organism. They have the ability for self-renewal and replication, thus are capable of forming any type of tissue or organ in the body. Adult stem cells from one organ are capable of forming tissue for another organ, which is called plasticity. It has been found that adult stem cells are capable of being transferred into any one single organ of the body.
Stem Cell Treatment for ILD
In the case of ILD, autologous stem cells are used, meaning the cells come from the patient’s body, and can be found in the patient’s blood (venous). Stem cells derived from bone marrow or blood have the capacity to form many types of differentiated cells. During the procedure, stem cell treatment involves isolating adult stem cells from bone marrow, which requires special laboratory techniques to collect them. After being extracted from the patient’s body, they are isolated. Then they are given back to the patient intravenously. The treatment is minimally invasive and typically an outpatient procedure. The procedure should be performed in a clinical setting under the supervision of a professional. It takes a physician that has sought specific training to perform stem cell therapy adequately and safely. If you would like to find out more about our available treatment options for ILD and other lung diseases, please contact one of our patient care coordinators today at (800) 729-3065 to schedule a free consultation.